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A heavenly mutation

REVIEW - LADYTRON
Koko by GEOFFREY SAWYER

IT is hard not to imagine that Ladytron came into existence in a Fly-like experiment that went dreadfully wrong some time at the end of the 1980s; that a rock band and synth group were somehow mutated together as they were transported through the ether, and a little Beatles and Abba got thrown into the mix too. It sounds like a bad recipe but, with a hard bass and drums supporting their beautiful soundscapes and the glacial vocals of Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo, any Darwinist would conclude a superior mutation.
Reuben Wu and Danny Hunt dressed in tight black sweaters with big moustaches and bigger hair sit at the back on drums and rhythm box adding a later Beatlesque seasoning to the Liverpool-based classic two-boy two-girl combo. (Though there are an extra couple of musicians on stage).
Marnie and Aroyo, are surrounded by their retro-synths and sing alternately or in harmony. Add in their knee-length black dresses, high black boots, dark hair and ice-maiden cool and it’s as if Tim Burton had given Agnetha and Frida from Abba a make over. It’s almost kinky. They look good, but more importantly, they sound good.
Showcasing tracks from their latest album Witching Hour with minimal chat, they launch straight into the dissonant and guitar heavy High Rise and the mellow Destroy Everything You Touch.
Ladytron’s earlier songs, though, have a ghostly yearning quality to them, no more so than in He Took Her to a Movie from 604 or the final encore track, Seventeen from the last album, Light and Magic.
At one point their frenetic drumming and lightshow is dazzling and breathtaking, the next their melodies are spine-tingling.

Authentic night of Staines indie

REVIEW - HARD-FI
Electric Ballroom by Charlotte Chambers

EVERYBODY likes some indie bands, but once they’ve got big – like, say Oasis and Blur in 1995 – then they’re just pop.
Proper indie is Staines-massive Hard-Fi, who played some outstanding tracks at the Electric Ballroom on Thursday night.
While avoiding sweaty men falling on me and having to peer round geeks with their phones out all night – why? – an indie-sceptic was sold by this jacketed-up four-piece. Their standout anthem is Unnecessary Trouble, which sounds destined to be a pub singalong-at-closing-time when you’re 16 (I mean 18) song.
The guitar-led outfit are being raved about in the music press and the red-tops – some mean feat in itself – while rumours fly that they would have won the Mercury Prize this year if it hadn’t have been for that pesky American bloke who looks like a girl (who won it instead).
Although I couldn’t help but be distracted by Wallace-lookalike (of Gromit fame) singer Richard Archer’s penchant for sticking his tongue out, I was won over by Cash Machine, album track Stars of CCTV, and of course, Living for the Weekend.
Altogether now “Working all week I’m bored…just got paid.. Living for the weekend” – or maybe not in Camden Town’s case.
When Archer enthusiastically rallied the crowd with: “Who here’s got a sh*t job and sh*t money?” a low-key response from the audience told you all you need to know about rock fans – they’re all accountants really.
Catch Hard-Fi’s de rigueur Jo Whiley voice-over ad on the telly, or if you are an accountant, splash out on the album.

Poets from hip-hop’s roots come with peace

REVIEW - ONE NATION UNDER A GROOVE
Forum by Elva Tynan

AN extremely eclectic crowd greeted MC Suheir Hammad.
He eulogised about the climate of the times, how and when hip hop originated, and why it is so deeply entrenched within the sub cultures of New York.
It was clear that the message of the night was to promote international solidarity between races and cultures.
Artists and poets, including Benjamin Zephaniah, spoke passionately about the need for non-violence in the face of injustice – indeed it had a poignant significance for the Birmingham-born poet, for as he spoke there were riots breaking out in his hometown.
Rappers on the bill echoed his ideals of freedom and liberty.
It’s hard to forget the sparkling performance by support act Dead Prez whose mission it was to rock the house. They blew the stage up and everything around it. New York rapper Pharoahe Monch was greeted by a delirious crowd when he finally got onstage.
He proceeded to tear up the place as he delivered his masterful lyrics. He rapped with piercing accuracy: laughter and spirit filled the Forum.
Hands were thrown up to the sky; the mood was totally infectious.
His new joints were well received, while the audience erupted at old number Simon Says. Monch has just come out of his old recording deal and I cannot wait to hear his new album.

Graham Coxon looks on the bright side

WHERE DO YOU GO OUT IN CAMDEN?
I don’t really go out in Camden. Although Camden’s the only place I’d live in London, London’s crap, you can’t be yourself.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT?
Any song that resonates with me, folk music. I like songs that tell stories. What’s in the charts now is rubbish. I like the Arctic Monkeys, Bob Dylan, Freddie King.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?
I’m not comfortable with the world we live in. The world is in a state of yearning and the country is rubbish. I just stay in and watch the news and get despondent.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I’ve had more comments about my depressing songs than any others. It’s great when people say I’ve helped them through hard times – I’ve been through addictions myself. This country is always ashamed about being open but I like it. I’m not ashamed to speak my opinion, I haven’t changed, I just care less what people think of me. I’m very self-conscious, but I say what I think.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE CHARTS ARE RUBBISH?
Because kids just listen to what they’re told to, no one has the idea to listen to something on their own. The radio directs them to what is palatable. It is not a dynamic scene. When I was a kid I was listening to The Beatles, The Who, The Jam and Public Enemy. People who don’t care about being cool are the ones that go and find something inspiring.
You have to question what will stand up over time.
You can tell a good song: there are some that people talk over but the ones where people go ‘shhh’ – they’re the classics. I hope some Blur will stand up and be timeless in sound.
WHAT IS YOUR RANT?
I hate Specsavers. They’re so bland.

Charlotte Chambers spoke to Graham Coxon after his gig at the Colour Bar in Inverness Street.

My top five

John Paul O’Leary, 16, who lives in Hadley Street, Kentish town picks his favourite five songs:
Stand By Me by Ben E King;
I’ll Be Missing You by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans;
Flowers by Sweet FA;
Hero by Mariah Carey;
Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers

CLICK HERE FOR LISTINGS



A premiere for intifada deaths

WORLD PREMIERE - PHILIP MUNGER’S THE SKIES ARE WEEPING
Hackney Empire

THE world premiere of a work dedicated to the memories of peace campaigners Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall is to be performed at the Hackney Empire on Tuesday.
Philip Munger’s The Skies are Weeping was due to be first performed in Anchorage, Alaska, but it was cancelled following email and telephone threats.
So now the piece is coming here and is for soprano, chamber choir and percussion. Soprano Deborah Fink will be joined by pianist Dominic Saunders and the London Percussion Ensemble.
American composer Munger has been based in Alaska since 1973 and has consistently written music questioning American foreign and environmental policies.
His work has been performed at the Lincoln and Kennedy centres and the Warsaw Conservatory.
Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to stop a Palestinian doctor’s house in the West Bank being flattened and photographer Tom Hurndall, from Tufnell Park, was shot dead in Gaza while trying to protect Palestinian children.
The piece is dedicated to the memory of Ms Corrie and the second movement is dedicated to Mr Hurndall.
The concert also features the UK Premiere of the Singer of Wind and Rain, five songs on Palestinian poems set by Gregory Youtz, Israeli, Palestinian and Yemenite songs set to jazz, and traditional Palestinian dance perform by the group Dabka.
Call 020 8985 2424.

NPO perform the standards


PREVIEW - NEW PROFESSIONALS ORCHESTRA
St John at Hampstead

A CROWD pleasing concert is taking place at St John’s at Hampstead on Saturday featuring the New Professionals Orchestra.
The audience will be able to enjoy Barber’s Adagio for Strings – a piece oft played but always moving – and Brahms fourth symphony.
But perhaps the highlight will be Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, the soloist is Thomas Gould, who grew up in Hampstead and left the Royal Academy of Music with first class honours.
It is a tremendously satisfying piece and one which nearly all lead violinists enjoy playing – it is full of virtuoso passages. I have a particularly entertaining Deutsche Gramophone recording featuring Wolfgang Schneiderhan whose solos were adapted from the piano version of the same piece and I never tire of listening to it.
If this performance can come anywhere close then the audience will be left thrilled. Ring 020 8202 9289.

Puccini on the hill

PREVIEW - HAMPSTEAD GARDEN OPERA
Upstairs at The Gatehouse, Highgate

IT is that time of a year again when the Hampstead Garden Opera (HGO) company come to Highgate to perform their six monthly production. So this time we have Puccini’s Madam Butterfly running from November 3 to 13
.
The HGO is that rare thing, an amateur opera company that put verve and spirit into their productions, so this should be worth taking time out to enjoy. The opening night is in aid of The Samaritans. It runs at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Hill, N6. Call 020 8340 3488. Performances at 7.30pm, and matinees at 4pm.

CLICK HERE FOR LISTINGS



Get to work on your tannin


BORDEAUX winemakers – long regarded as the world’s greatest – are in trouble. Government health campaigns and strict enforcement of French drink driving laws are causing a dramatic decrease in French wine consumption.
FULL STORY



It all comes down to cash


AFTER confessing to not being able to swim the other week, I was deluged with offers of help.
FULL STORY

   
   
 
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